I would say this is the first in a new series of monthly round-ups but, knowing me, it’ll be a haphazard monthly series that doesn’t appear monthly as one would reasonably expect a monthly series to do. This haphazardness is especially likely as I had planned to start my round-ups with a round-up of May’s recipes, reviews and samples at the beginning of June, but when it got to the 28th of June, I thought that was probably a bit too late for a May round-up. (Update: Writing this post has taken far longer than I thought it would when I started it on 6 July – it’s now the 11th.)
So, welcome to the first round-up. Whether I manage to post one a month, we’ll see.
There were four recipes this month – all vegan – and if I have to pick my favourite then you REALLY need to make the mushroom pate. Unless you don’t like/are allergic to mushrooms, then I’d recommend the vegan carrot cupcakes.
This month, I reviewed the Mueller Spiral Pro 4 Blade Spiralizer. I love this little gadget so much (okay, it’s not that little and you can get those pencil sharpener type ones which are a lot smaller but this one is very compact and easier to use than the other type) – even making beetroot spirals wasn’t as messy as I feared it was going to be and have you ever seen how much courgetti you can make from one courgette?
Vegetarian and Vegan Cookbooks
As a non-Beatles fan, these cookbooks are far more my kind of Fab Four. I’ve got to admit, I haven’t cooked from all of them yet but when I do, I’ll be sure to post the recipes (well, depending on how the pics turn out).
The Vegetarian Italian Kitchen by Veronica Levenia contains over 100 simple, affordable Italian dishes categorised into seasons, then sub-divided into sweet and savoury. Be warned though, the author uses non-vegetarian cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Fontina and Parmigiano (see the Vegetarian Society’s Cheese Fact Sheet for more information) with no mention of using vegetarian alternatives (in fact, she even makes a point of mentioning in the author’s notes that there are no additives to Fontina apart from natural calf rennet), so if this is something that will bug you as much as it bugged me, this might not be the book for you.
Saying that though, if you can get past the ‘grr’ factor, the recipes are great and I made the aubergine (eggplant) bake last night and I’m making the wholewheat spaghetti pie tonight (in case you’re wondering what that is – it’s spaghetti, tomatoes and mozzarella in puff pastry, although after getting on the bathroom scales yesterday, I might have to rethink this. Update: I decided spaghetti *and* puff pastry was far too gluttonous and left the spaghetti out).
The Vegetarian Italian Kitchen is published by New Holland Publishers with a cover price of £16.99 and I’ll be giving a copy away soon, so keep an eye out for that.
Keep it Vegan by Aine Carlin is a book that crops up time and time again in vegan Facebook groups when someone asks for a recommendation. The book is split up into ‘breakfast, brunch & more’, ‘midday meals and simple suppers’, ‘something special’, ‘sides & sauces’ and ‘sweet treats’ and although I haven’t tried anything yet, I’m especially keen to make the tofu fingers and the creamy aubergine dip. In fact, I think I’ll make both at the same time so I can dip the fingers in the dip. Sounds like a plan.
Keep it Vegan is published by Kyle Books with a cover price of £14.99 (but you can usually find it in The Works for a few quid).
I had no idea what fermented vegetables were, so when the publishers of Ferment your Vegetables by Amanda Feifer asked me if I’d like a copy, the curious part of me thought, yeah, why not? When I got the book, it seemed like a whole world of faffness involving bacteria but the author had planned for any WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU WANT ME TO MAKE BACTERIA ARE YOU CRAZY WOMAN? comments and says there’s no need to be freaked out and it’s all quite safe. I didn’t believe her though and put the book on the shelf until now.
The book contains detailed recipes, notes on equipment, a trouble-shooting guide and the book is set out into three parts: Getting Started with Fermentation, Small-batch Lactic Acid Fermentation (pickles, kraus, kimchi, sauces, salsas and condiments, kvass), and Alternative Approaches to Vegetable Fermentation (fermenting in crocks, no-salt-added ferments, tsukemono, sun pickles, and other parts to cultured vegetables).
As I currently have some elderflower champagne (not from this book) fermenting away in the conservatory, I now consider myself an expert and so I’ll stop being scared of fermenting vegetables and will make some kimchi soon, as it looks so pretty.
Ferment Your Vegetables is published by Fair Winds Press and has a cover price of £15.99.
As a recent convert to spiralized vegetables, I was pleased to be offered a copy of Nourishing Noodles by Chris Anca. I’ve made a couple of recipes from it with varying degrees of success. The first one I tried was zucchini and tomato noodle pancakes which, in the book, looked and sounded amazing. These are done in the dehydrator but even after leaving it on for twice as long as it says in the book, they still weren’t done. I also tried making dried tomatoes in the dehydrator, following Chris’ instructions but they were a disaster too. I then made the zucchini noodles with kale pesto (using spinach instead) and this was flipping amazing. So, my advice would be to ignore the recipes that need a dehydrator and to make the others instead.
I’ll be posting the recipe for the zucchini noodles with kale pesto soon, along with a giveaway of the book, so keep an eye out for that.
Nourishing Noodles by Chris Anca is published by Race Point Publishing and has a cover price of £14.99.
What I’ve eaten when I’ve eaten out
I’m sorry for the lack of photos in this section but I only decided to tell you about what I’ve eaten when I’ve eaten out after deciding to do a round-up.
A couple of friends from up north go camping down south near me every year and this year we went for lunch at The Bell in Ivychurch. As a regular walker, I’ve visited dozens of pubs in the Kent countryside which have all been beautiful, so I thought that meant all pubs in Kent (except for the one across the road from where I live) were beautiful. The Bell is not beautiful. The Bell is shabby but it does have a lovely garden and it also does cheap-ish food. I had a cheese and onion pasty the size of my head for £3.45. Unfortunately, it was stodgy with dough as thick as a brick and although I didn’t hate it, I wouldn’t have it again.
I’d be the first to admit I’m a bit of a snob but I’ve got to say, I do like the food in Wetherspoons. I wouldn’t go there for my birthday or other special occasion but after a bike ride or before going out on the piss, you really can’t complain about a decent plate of food that only costs about a fiver, including a drink. I’ve eaten there twice in the last few weeks and had a halloumi and sweet chilli wrap and chips, and a cheese and tomato panini and chips. I’m just sad they no longer do a veggie roast.
I won tickets to a songwriting masterclass held by Chris Difford from Squeeze (I know, I know, I’m a lucky bitch) and arranged to meet a friend afterwards in The Betjeman Arms. Although I’d eaten there before, I couldn’t remember what I had but I remembered it was nice, so it seemed as good a place as any to get something. We shared a bowl of macaroni cheese croquettes as the starter and both had the asparagus tart as our main course. The Betjeman Arms isn’t cheap but the food is good and there’s a separate dining area so it has more of a restaurant feel than a pub feel.
The Tickled Trout in Wye really pissed me off. A group I was walking with stopped here five miles in to a twenty mile walk to get some lunch. We weren’t stopping for long so I decided to get a sandwich and looked at the menu. THERE WASN’T EVEN ONE FLIPPING VEGETARIAN SANDWICH ON THE MENU. Seriously, Tickled Trout? You can’t put a simple cheese sandwich on your menu? Shame on you. I was so pissed off I wanted to not give them any of my money but I knew walking fifteen miles on no food would be a tad foolish (especially as I’d done the same walk this time last year and fainted at the end of it as I ran out of water at eleven miles) so I asked if they had any vegetarian sandwiches and they reluctantly agreed to make me a cheese one. There wasn’t any dressing/mayo on it so it was a touch dry but the ready salted crisps that accompanied it were nice. The crisps were so nice I went to the Co-Op on the way past to get some more.
I don’t always eat in pubs. Sometimes I get a pizza. And usually when I get a pizza, I go to Strada (except for the time I wanted to try out Zizzi’s new vegan menu) but Strada no longer accept Tesco Clubcard vouchers and paying full price for a chain pizza is so 1990s, we went to Pizza Express instead. We shared a Giardiniera and a Pianta and I wanted to love the Pianta, as it’s vegan, but I found it dry and dull. The Giardiniera on the other hand, was lush.
Um, this was a bit of a disaster. And when I say a ‘bit’, I mean I am probably blacklisted from ever ordering from Papa John’s again. I ordered a pizza at 7:40 to arrive at 8:30. When it got to 9pm, I rang Papa John’s to be told the driver was leaving shortly. I said to the man on the phone to tell the driver not to leave as it was too late and I wanted to cancel my order. The man said the driver had already left so I told him to phone him and make him come back. THEN THE CHEEKY FUCKER HUNG UP ON ME. Bad Papa John’s. Very naughty. So, when the delivery man eventually turned up, I did the grown up thing and turned off all the lights, hid upstairs and ignored the phone until he’d gone away. Looks like I’ll be ordering from Domino’s in the future.
Food and drink samples
I love Primal Pantry bars so I’m always happy to be sent them. All their products are vegan and paleo and made only with natural ingredients. They’ve just brought out these protein bars which they claim are the UK’s cleanest protein bars and are 100 % Paleo with up to 21% protein per bar. They’re also gluten free, vegan and raw, using raw hemp seeds and almonds as the protein source.
I can’t tell you what the cocoa orange one is like as I hate chocolate orange and have sent it to a friend. The mixed berries one went down well before a walk though.
A mixed box of 15 bars costs £29.90 from the Primal Pantry website.
Monty Bojangles Truffles have got a competition running at the moment (Update: voting is now closed) where they want you to help them decide what will be their next flavour. So, if you’d like to win a year’s supply of truffles then head over to their website and vote on your favourite flavour out of:
- lemon meringue and black pepper
- coconut and chilli
- popcorn crispy crepe
(In case you’re interested, I’d vote for coconut and chilli.)
Tilda have brought out a new range of rice that come in single serve pouches and can be eaten cold straight from the packet, or heated up in one minute in the microwave. The flavours are:
- chickpea, harissa and lemon
- pinto bean, green chilli and lime
- black bean, jerk and coconut
- edamame, spring onion and wasabi
- split pea, green chilli and coriander
You can find the range at Ocado, Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s and they have an RRP of £1.39 for a 140g pouch.
Did I want to try a bottle of sap? To be honest, my first thought was ‘yuck’ but now I’ve tried it, I can tell you it’s not as weird as it sounds (of course, it may not sound weird to you at all). It’s hard to describe the taste – which I’m aware is a bit crap for a food blogger – but it’s kind of like water but a bit different. It’s definitely not horrible though and according to the blurb that accompanied it, TreeVitalise Birch Water is hand harvested in early spring in the area of Natural Beauty and lavish mixed forests. And in case you’re wondering what happens to the trees if all their sap has been stolen, don’t worry – only a small amount of sap is taken, leaving plenty for the tree to grow.
TreeVitalise Birch Water comes in three flavours – original, mint and lemon and costs £2.69 for a 250ml bottle. Visit their website for a list of stockists.
Qcumber is – yep, you guessed it – a drink made from cucumber. To be more specific, it’s a blend of natural cucumber extract and sparkling spring water and also contains beet sugar and citric acid.
You can drink it on its own or use it as a mixer with gin, vodka or Pimms. I’m liking the idea of having it with Pimms. Then again, I always like the idea of drinking Pimms and, going by the empty shelves in the supermarket on a sunny day, so does everyone else.
There’s a list of stockists on their website and it currently costs £2.39 for a 750ml bottle at Tesco.
Newton’s Appl Fizzics is a natural sparkling apple drink with no artificial ingredients, preservatives or added sugar. It has about 40% less sugar than apple juice on its own and in case you’re wondering why they’ve left off the ‘e’ at the end of ‘appl’, that’s because they say there’s no place for any E’s on their drinks. E’s are bad? That’s not what The Shamen said.
You can buy it at Amazon for £20.55 (at the time of writing) for 12 330ml bottles.
Giveaways (closed, please don’t enter)
This month, I gave away 3 jars of vegan omega 3 from NothingFishy. As mentioned above, this giveaway has now closed so please don’t enter (Rafflecopter wouldn’t let you anyway). As also mentioned further above, I’ll be giving away a couple of cookbooks soon, so do keep checking back.
And that’s my round-up for June. If you read all the way to here, you are hardcore.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which if purchased through, won’t cost you any more but will give me a small commission. All cookbooks, food and drink products featured were sent to me but I wasn’t obliged to give a positive review. All food eaten in the pubs/restaurants mentioned was paid for by me. Thank you to the publishers/manufacturers for sending me their products.